We initiate micro-explosions inside fused silica, quartz, sapphire, and other transparent materials using tightly focused 100 fs laser pulses. In the micro-explosions, material is ejected from the center, forming a cavity surrounded by a region of compacted material. We examine the resulting structures with optical microscopy, diffraction, and atomic force microscopy of internal cross sections. We find the structures have a diameter of only 200–250 nm, which we attribute to strong self-focusing of the laser pulse. These experiments probe a unique regime of light propagation inside materials at intensities approaching 1021W/m2, the electron ionization that accompanies it, and the material response to extreme pressure and temperature conditions. The micro-explosions also provide a novel technique for internal microstructuring of transparent materials.

1.
D.
Du
,
X.
Liu
,
G.
Korn
,
J.
Squier
, and
G.
Mourou
,
Appl. Phys. Lett.
64
,
3071
(
1994
).
2.
B. C.
Stuart
,
M. D.
Feit
,
S.
Herman
,
A. M.
Rubenchik
,
B. W.
Shore
, and
M. D.
Perry
,
Phys. Rev. Lett.
74
,
2248
(
1995
);
B. C.
Stuart
,
M. D.
Feit
,
S.
Herman
,
A. M.
Rubenchik
,
B. W.
Shore
, and
M. D.
Perry
,
J. Opt. Soc. Am. B
13
,
459
(
1996
).
3.
J.
Ihlemann
,
B.
Wolff
, and
P.
Simon
,
Appl. Phys. A
54
,
363
(
1992
).
4.
E. N.
Glezer
,
M.
Milosavljevic
,
L.
Huang
,
R. J.
Finlay
,
T.-H.
Her
,
J. P.
Callan
, and
E.
Mazur
,
Opt. Lett.
21
,
2023
(
1996
).
5.
E. N. Glezer, Ph.D. thesis, Harvard University, 1996.
6.
T. Erdogan, OSA Technical Digest, Vol. 11, Nonlinear Optics: Materials, Fundamentals and Applications, Mauii, Hawaii 1996.
7.
D. Erskine, High Press. Sci. Technol. 309, 141 (1994).
8.
M. J.
Soileau
,
W. E.
Williams
,
N.
Mansour
, and
E. W.
Van Stryland
,
Opt. Eng. (Bellingham)
28
,
1133
(
1989
).
9.
The solid values of the heat capacity are valid as rough approximations well above the ordinary melting and boiling temperatures, because the volume remains constant in the confined geometry of the micro-explosions [see Ref. 10]. The 30% absorption is based on a measurement of the transmission of the pulse. The 0.1 μm3 volume estimate is based on the 200–250-nm-diam and 2.5 μm length of the structures produced by the micro-explosions.
10.
R. W.
Hopper
and
D. R.
Uhlmann
,
J. Appl. Phys.
41
,
4023
(
1970
).
11.
LASL Shock Hugoniot Data, edited by S. P. Marsh (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1980).
This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.